THERE WAS A UNIQUE DYNAMIC that enhanced my newspaper experience. I had initially declined the job because I wanted to go to China; also, I knew nothing about newspaper work. A year later, I accepted and took over a position held by Susan Ford,
the daughter of the then-president of the United States. What made it unique was in the intervening time; I serendipitously got “published” in a few top magazines.
For that era, Newspaper work was almost a prerequisite to enter the world of photojournalism. It was the proving grounds. Daily newspaper meant a daily challenge, and the beauty was the daily feedback. Monthly magazines, the apex of the chase, lack this daily feedback. Some take months, even years before an assignment sees print. During such times of incubation, photographers are at the mercy of the editors, the whims of time and politics. It was not a nurturing place to perfect one’s game. So when I started working at the newspaper, after being published in a world-class magazine, it was like going backwards. Looking back, this proved to be the best thing I ever did.
Rich Clarkson of the Topeka Capitol-Journal newspaper was a tough boss, a feared drill sergeant with an uncanny ability to find young talent. When he first offered me a job, I had not realized that a photographer on his staff, also edited and designed their featured pages. An excellent layout to frame my pictures was imperative, so I thrived with the new opportunity. I had streaks of rebellion that made me bored with established norms and predictable formulas. I pushed and experimented with boundaries, looked for twists, turns, and most of all, I counted on the unexpected. To Clarkson’s credit, he gave me the freedom that I needed. Read More-
Samplings of published pages at the Topeka Capitol-journal between 1979-80.